Friesland united with the
other independent lowland provinces to become the Republic of the Netherlands in
1648. However, in 1806, the country was made a satellite state of France,
with Napoleon's brother Louis as king. In 1813, after Napoleon's defeat,
independence was won. It was during the years of French rule that the
citizens of the Netherlands were required to take a surname for the purposes of
French governmental records and a census, taken in 1811. Before this time,
the Dutch used the European common system of patronyms, i.e. surnames derived
from the father's name. A typical name could be Auke Caspers, which meant
"Auke, Casper's son". Females used the same system; Antje Caspers
meant "Antje, Casper's daughter".
When Dutch citizens were required
by the French to take a surname, many chose their profession, the name of their city or
village, or a physical description name, either of the area in which they lived,
or a personal description. Because my ancestors were florists and
vegetable gardeners, they took the surname Tuinstra. "Tuin"
means garden, and "stra" is a suffix which means
"from". Thus, it is important to realize that all people with
the surname Tuinstra are probably not related, even if they were from the same
village or county.
HOMETOWNS OF THE TUINSTRA FAMILY:
Franeker was the hometown of
my Tuinstra ancestors for several generations. It was once a favorite residence of the Frisian
nobility. In 1585, a renown university was established. Its town hall was built in 1591, and an observatory was
founded about 1780. In the church of St. Martin, which was built in 1420,
one can see several tombs from the 15th through the 17th centuries. A farm
market was set up in its center, and probably was important to my ancestors'
livelihood. It is one of the principal cities of the province.
In 1851, my
great-great-great-grandfather, Auke Caspers Tuinstra, moved his family from
Franeker to Sneek, where they resided for 23 years. Sneek is the second
principal city of Friesland after the provincial capital of Leeuwarden, with
which it is connected by a canal. One of the province's main lakes,
Sneeker Meer, lies to the east. The city originally rose on the inlet which has
become the Zuider Zee. One of its city gates, dating from 1615, still
remains to this day. The tomb of the great Frisian naval hero of the 16th
century, Lange--or Groote--Pier (Long or Great Peter) is in one of the city's
churches. Sneek is one of the province's greatest butter and cheese
THE TUINSTRA FAMILY EMIGRATES TO
In 1874, my great-great-great-grandfather, Auke Caspers
Tuinstra, emigrated from the city of Sneek, Friesland, the Netherlands, to Grand
Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.
His reasons were very likely religious and
economic freedom. Accompanying him was his third wife, his
father-in-law, five sons from his second marriage, and his four children from his third marriage. The entire family's occupations
were listed as florists. They left the port of Rotterdam on June 1, 1874
on the ship W. A.
Scholten, of the Netherlands-American Steam Navigation Company
(Holland-American line). The W. A. Scholten was built that
year, and the Tuinstras may well have been sailing on its maiden voyage.
The family first settled in
Wyoming Township in Kent County, where they had a farm. In 1880, Casper Aukes
Tuinstra, Auke's oldest son, and the only surviving child of his first marriage,
emigrated to the area with his own family. He settled in Byron
Township, Kent County.
Auke and his family eventually
settled in West Grand Rapids, where they worked as fruit and vegetable peddlers
and florists. One of his descendants founded the Fruit Basket Flowerland
company, which exists today in Grand Rapids; it is still run by the Tuinstra family.
To Choose an Ancestory,
Click on One of the Hyperlinked Names:
Looking for information on a
different Tuinstra than those listed above? Do a search on my online
database at WorldConnect!
©Miriam Midkiff, 2003 -